HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — “Disbelief.”
Jessica Runion’s father summed up his feelings about the day he learned his daughter disappeared in one word for jurors Friday morning.
John Runions followed up with many more words and thoughts as he shared memories with jurors during the sentencing phase of Kylr Yust’s trial. Yust was convicted of killing Jessica and Kara Kopetsky Thursday evening.
“Jessica was everything to a lot of people. There’s no more birthdays. No more laughing, no more video games, no more hugs, no more kisses,” Runions said. “She always greeted you with a hug and a kiss when she said hi, and she did the same when she said goodbye, always with a hug and a kiss.”
Runions used a picture of the two of them before Jessica’s Senior Prom that captured how he will always remember his little girl.
“See how beautiful she is? So Innocent? See how happy she is? That’s gone now. We don’t get that anymore,” Runions said.
Then he broke down and cried as he explained that he won’t be able to make new memories and mark other milestones with Jessica.
“I don’t get to walk my daughter down the aisle. I don’t get to see her be married and be a mother. Her sisters don’t get to look up to her anymore. She loved her sisters. No more I love yous. Our family is broken forever,” Runions said.
When Jessica disappeared in September of 2016, Runions said family and friends did everything they could think of to find her.
“Our family searched the community searched. I mean this was a collective effort of hundreds and thousands of people just to find out what happened,” Runions recalled.
The families of Jessica Runions and Kara Kopetsky organized search parties, did interviews, and held events to pay for even more searches over the years. When they finally found the women’s remains in 2017, John Runions told jurors that he forced himself to move forward.
“At first it was free and then it was a relief, once the girls were found. I had to start the next process, a whole new mindset. Getting these girls taken care of. We still haven’t been able to get our girls taken care of,” Runions said.
While acknowledging he’s at the end of the journey to get justice for his daughter, Runions said he will never fully recover from losing his little girl.
“It’s been devastating, to be honest. I wouldn’t be sitting here right now if on September 8, 2016, this man took my daughter’s life. And you know how I know this? Because you convicted him of taking by daughter’s life,” Runions said.